Monday, June 24, 2013

Sarah Martinez – How to Find a Critique Buddy

How to Find a Critique Buddy

by Sarah Martinez

Great question! I had a very hard time with critique groups. In the beginning they were necessary and I learned from them, but as soon as I could I pulled away and will say that the best feedback I have gotten is from one on one relationships where I trust and respect the person I am working with.

I have had good luck meeting people at classes, conferences and other types of writing groups that are not focused on critiquing work. Just being involved in your local writing community offers ways to meet people who might be a good fit and will also likely be great resources for other reasons as well. If I click with a person over our common writing goals, choices of genre–both for reading and writing, favorite authors, even music, I am much more likely to have good luck with them as a critique partner than if I was forced into trading work blindly.

I am a very social person and meet both my critique partners and other friends in the writing community in person all the time, but I have found that most of the real work is done over email. This was not true in the beginning. I have had to be patient and willing to work with what was available to me at any given time.

Now I feel extremely (I cannot overstate this!) grateful for the writers who are in my life now. Finding the right people has been and still is a process. In the beginning I was just glad anyone was willing to read anything!

By the time I went to the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in 2010, I wanted to have someone read my entire manuscript and tell me if what I was attempting was working overall, if my story hung together, if it was too long, too short, whatever. So what if there was nobody at the time I could find to do this, I knew that was what was going to move me forward.

I heard Alan Rinzler talk about something called Developmental Editing where an editor would read the whole book and comment on the thing in its entirety. I knew then that I would pay money for editors who had real experience and I would also continue to find people who whose writing and artistic sensibilities I admired to trade entire works with. It was important to me when I got serious about publishing to know that the advice I was getting came from people who had proven themselves either as editors, or authors or both.

I would also suggest to anyone who is really serious to look into taking at least one editing class. This will help you as you assess your own work, but it also offers the opportunity to work with people who are actually skilled at giving feedback. Some of my best readers have editing backgrounds and the quality of the feedback is much better than what I had access to in the beginning.

I also want to say that Priscilla Long also handles this topic in her book, The Writer’s Portable Mentor. This is a book that I feel no writer should be without. It is my Bible and it handles everything from how to improve craft, how to study the masters, how to be productive and how to make yourself accountable to another person by enlisting the help of what she calls a writing buddy.

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Genre – Literary Erotica

Rating – X

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